And dishonors. As this is the Office's first year, this is the Office's first year in review. We're skipping the obvious, such as Brave of the Year (Andruw) and Rookie of the Year (the Lilburn Flash). THE GOODBest moments not on the playing field:
(Tie) Eddie Perez getting a standing O from the entire bench as he approached for his last at-bat as a Bravo; the Braves including Furcal in their division winning celebration. They left the clubhouse to find him since he couldn't be around booze, per his probation from two previous DUI arrests. Best excuse to spend lunch hour in a parking lot:
"Sid and Frankie Day," celebrated every Oct. 14 by the Braves 400 Club. Loyal fans gather to toast the most exciting moment in Atlanta Braves history at the site where it happened, which is now the middle of the parking lot across Georgia Avenue from Turner Field.
Best T-shirt seen at Turner Field:
A kid had a homemade T with Kolb's numbers, applied with magic marker and tagged: Never forget. We're still trying.
Best pitching performance:
(Tie) An ailing Smoltzie shutting down Houston in Game 2, allowing one run in seven stalwart innings. And Hudson, also against Houston, on April 18, when he threw nine shutout innings against Clemens. The Braves won 1-0 on a Langy homer, in front of friends and family, in the 12th. Best pitching performance in a losing cause:
The April game when Smoltz struck out 15 Mets but allowed 2 runs in seven and 1/3, losing to Pedro. Most surprising comment overheard at the Ted:
At that same Smoltz-Pedro duel, a group of, um, rural types quoted "Napoleon Dynamite" lines and criticized George W. Bush. Brave of the half decade:
Who else? Smoltz might not have been the best player, but he was close, and he represents the franchise superbly on and off the field. It will be a crime if he doesn't retire as a Brave.THE BAD
Worst addition to the ballpark:
The Ted's new "host," Jeff Dauler
, the blond guy with the butt cut who once pronounced "Giles" like "guiles" (with a hard "G"), called home plate "home base," and generally was a cloying clod who knew little about baseball or the Braves. Hey Jeff: 1983 called, they want their hairstyle back. Worst performance by a former Rookie of the Year:
Raul Mondesi hit .211 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI in 142 at-bats. Thank God for Frenchy. And Langy. And KJ. Worst fans:
The Mets backer who complained when your Office caretakers stood with two outs in the ninth of a budding Braves victory. "I can't see the game," she complained, shrilly, threatening to sick an usher on us. We stood our ground, the Mets lost and most everyone but the old bag behind us was happy.
Worst stadium banter:
We always seem to be surrounded by the bottom of the barrel, fan-wise. At an early season Mets-Braves game (funny how the Metropolitans keep showing up in the "bad" category), we had to endure several innings of the most humorless conversation ever heard, coming from three middle-aged idiots who said they worked in radio. Big surprise. An example: they serenaded Mike Piazza with stereotypical gay comments whenever the recently married New York catcher came to bat: "Hey Mike, How do you hold the bat with those limp wrists?" And so on. If you're going to bash someone, at least attempt to be clever or original. They were neither. Worst advocate for "the wave":
Not that there's a good advocate for standing, sitting, then standing again, and sitting ... We always resist the mindless custom, and, during one game, were singled out by some squirrely guy behind us, accusing us of being "fags" because we didn't participate. Just like that queen Skip Caray. And flaming Don Sutton. Worst ballpark "tradition":
St. Louis has Stan Musial throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. The Yankees usually kick off the playoffs with a cameo from Whitey or Yogi or another of their Hall of Famers. Here in Atlanta, we're treated to the majestic likes of the VP of Finance from Wachovia, or the district sales manager for Coke. Time Warner has never been above selling out tradition to the highest bidder. I want Knucksie or Hank or Murph, not some fat middle-aged white guy triple hopping the first pitch. You'd think the Braves were the Devil Rays. Worst soundtrack:
Ah, the joys of corporate synergy. I thought I'd never have to hear the abysmal "Friends" theme song again, but on more than one occasion I had to endure the yuppie ballad in between innings. And why the hell did the mixmasters at the Ted bring back John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy?" That should've died with Baltimore's Memorial Stadium (and John Denver). And please, no more fiddling with the home run song, typically the sample from the Sugar Hill Gang's "Apache," which should be the team's anthem. No more of that country pop crap they sometimes played as a Bravo rounded the bases. Most hideous body of work from a reliever not named Kolb:
Tom Martin. Four games, 2 and 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs and a 19.29 ERA. 2005 Brave most likely to be forgotten:
Frank Brooks would appear headed for a fate similar to Mike Davey. Do you remember Mike Davey? We didn't. And we remember Charlie Spikes. A random search for an utterly forgettable Brave pitcher turned him up. Davey threw a combined 18 innings in 1977 and '78, giving up nine earned runs. Brooks pitched a third of an inning this past season, allowing a hit. But who knows? He may be our lefty setup guy in '06. At least it won't be Tom Martin.Dumbest thing written about the Braves:
No, it's not CD's favorite target, Oops O'Brien. The loser: Dayn Perry of foxsportsnews.com, observing that Furcal got a "below market" contract from the Dodgers at $13 million a year for three seasons. Meanwhile, the chronically misguided Perry asserted the Braves overpaid
for Renteria. I don't get his math, or his rational. Go crunch some stats, you geek!
***Coming soon: Our fearless predictions for '06. For one, expect a huge year from Marcus Guiles.